This research set out to achieve a better understanding of the experiences and impacts of taking part in FSS for two specific groups - disabled service participants or those with a long-term health condition, and those who were from minority ethnic groups. Previous research evaluations found that individuals from those two groups were underrepresent on the service and/or had less positive experiences of the service. Insights arising from this research add to the existing body of evidence to help to inform the delivery of employability services.
While the findings cannot be easily generalised, some broad themes emerged:
Barriers to employment are complex. This research offered further evidence in support of findings from previous evaluations of FSS service, as well as other research - individuals taking part in employability services often experience complex barriers to employment. These arise from a combination of different factors including but not being limited to: being from a minority ethnic group, discrimination, unsuitable working environments and lack of access to suitable childcare.
Positive experiences of the service are linked to positive impacts. Positive experiences of the service including regular contact with the key worker, receiving personalised support and access to high quality courses and group activities which match individuals needs is linked with a range of positive impacts for service participants. These include improved confidence and employability skills, a positive impact on wellbeing and mental health and securing suitable employment. Conversely, negative experiences such as a perceived mismatch between persons level of skills and the course offered, is linked with lack of positive impacts for participants. The study showed how inadequate communication from key worker is linked with a risk of disengagement and leaving the service early.
Participants want jobs which match their skills, aspirations and circumstances. One of the key themes that emerge was the need for the service to provide support not just to find a job but to help people find or move towards employment that matches the persons skills, professional aspirations and individual circumstances.
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